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04-24-2010, 10:19 AM #1
Australia consider T20 pace quartet
Brett Lee's return to the squad means Australia can lay claim to the quickest quartet in the game - and possibly of all-time. Life was already extremely nervous for the batsmen who had to face Shaun Tait, who cracked the 160kph barrier in February, Dirk Nannes and Mitchell Johnson over the past two months. Now Lee is on the road back after elbow and finger injuries and will add some more fear if he can approach his peak.
But could all four pacemen squeeze into the same Twenty20 side? "You betcha we can," the coach Tim Nielsen told Cricinfo. "Especially against Bangladesh in Barbados [on May 5]."
The Australians believe the Kensington Oval pitch is the only one in the Caribbean that won't be low and slow. "Our past experience there shows the ball does carry and bounce a bit," Nielsen said. "If it's fizzing through, we'll certainly consider four quicks, no doubt, as long as they're all bowling well."
Lee is the main concern after missing the entire home season due to a severe elbow problem and breaking his right thumb four IPL matches into his comeback. He was expensive in those games, giving away 149 runs in 14.3 overs, but feels confident and won't let a sore finger interrupt his international duties.
Wet weather during the pre-tournament camp in Brisbane also restricted Lee's preparation, but Nielsen indicated the 33-year-old was likely to be used in the warm-up matches in St Lucia on Tuesday and Thursday. "The only thing with Brett is he hasn't had a huge amount of competitive bowling, just through these unfortunate injuries," he said. "That's where the two practice games and the lead-up time we have in the West Indies will help him."
Nannes managed nine of the 14 IPL league matches with Delhi while Tait appeared in eight, leaving him a little short of work. Johnson was looking relaxed and cheerful this week after his holiday, which included spending six hours in a tattooist's chair to gain an intricate new design on his right arm. He was one of the eight Australians fine-tuning in Queensland before they left for the Caribbean on Friday.
Australia were knocked out of the previous World Twenty20 in England in the first round and Nielsen will speak to the group about the importance of starting well in the two-week event. He will also look to the batch of players who appeared in the IPL to provide some match toughness and tips.
"They'll help, for certain," he said. "We'd like to think both Husseys, White, Warner and Nannes will play a big role for us."
It will be the first major tournament in charge for Michael Clarke and the side is attempting to eliminate the wobbles that have left them trying to catch up in the shortest form of the game. However, they enter the competition with a strong recent record of four wins and a tie, which eventually ended in a Super Over success against New Zealand.
"We had a poor Twenty20 World Cup last year, there's no doubt about that," Nielsen said. "I remember saying the night before the first game we were as ready to go as we could be and we felt really good about it.
"This time we have a new captain so there are a few new ideas in the group, and a few new players, which is exciting. We're just growing with the game. At international level we're probably the group that plays the least as a team in Twenty20. But we're gelling better and we're looking at having another go at it in the West Indies."